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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

In a new interview for CNBC, The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern and Daring Fireball's John Gruber discussed their thoughts about Apple's transition to Apple Silicon with the M1 and showed a real-world comparison of the new MacBook Pro's 720p camera.

During the course of the interview, it became apparent that Gruber was using the M1 MacBook Pro's built-in webcam, while Stern actively chose to use an external camera connected to the M1 MacBook Pro. The result is a clear comparison between the MacBook Pro's 720p camera and an external camera in a realistic video-call use-case.

Though it is clear that the cameras are different, the quality of the MacBook Pro's camera does seem to be a surprising step up from previous generations. This is likely because the M1 chip's Image Signal Processor enables sharper images, as well as more detail in shadows and highlights on video calls.

In August, Apple upgraded the 27-inch iMac's camera from 720p to 1080p, but the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro remained at 720p resolution.

Amid glowing reviews for the M1-powered Macs, the 720p camera was the most heavily maligned aspect of the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. For example, The Verge's Nilay Patel said, "We really considered giving these machines 10 out of 10 review scores, but this camera is bad enough to keep that from happening, especially on a pro laptop that costs more than the Air."

Article Link: Joanna Stern and John Gruber Discuss Apple M1 Transition and 'Craptastic' 720p FaceTime Cameras


macrumors regular
Jan 3, 2007
Am I blind or did the video quality between Joanna and Gruber look very similar? I wouldn't have guessed that she was using an external 1080P camera, but perhaps compression was killing her quality?

*typing this from my 480p capable 2015 MacBook*


macrumors 6502a
Mar 1, 2013
I cannot think of any Zoom meeting where I think it's an OK call, but wouldn't it be better if the other person had a 1080 camera.

Yeah, 720 is old tech and I don't know why Apple didn't use the opportunity to just get it done (this would have been easy compared what they did achieve), but really...who gives a stuff?


macrumors member
Apr 26, 2005
Considering Zoom maxes out at 720p, and I believe that's the max on Google too, there's very little benefit to going with a higher resolution today for the majority of users. By improving the signal processing with the new computers, the difference should be minimal and more academic than anything in real world use. Yes, in the future that will matter, but not today or 2021.

Internet Enzyme

macrumors 6502a
Feb 21, 2016
Everyone is saying that the lid is too thin. Honestly, I don't buy that at all. The 720p webcam is simply an artifact of laziness: an artifact of the latter Intel era, where Macs were treated like a sideshow product line that continued to exist due to its far better profit margin than their main business, the iPhone, and was only improved at an Intel-controlled cadence, where their progress was just "good enough." There's just no way that a 1080p camera module of the size of the current 720p one is infeasible. ****, if Macs weren't a second-class citizen, they'd all have Face ID already. Figure it out.


macrumors 68020
Feb 21, 2011
Am I blind or did the video quality between Joanna and Gruber look very similar? I wouldn't have guessed that she was using an external 1080P camera, but perhaps compression was killing her quality?

*typing this from my 480p capable 2015 MacBook*
I actually thought the video quality of Gruber was better than Joanna's and she was the one using an external webcam.


macrumors 68040
Mar 23, 2012
This is really silly. There's hardly much difference between 720p and 1080p. I consider both to be HD though I'd take 4k over either. This is hardly the culprit for dark, blurry, etc cameras on the mbps.


macrumors regular
Oct 27, 2012
What's so hard about upgrading to 1080HD Camera??? Are they rare or what?

There just isn't really any option while having a display lid so thin, camera modules are pretty bulky components (relatively speaking) and it's why we're even seeing the likes of the iPhone and other flagships getting thicker or with camera bumps just to fit improved cameras.

It's the same across most of the industry, especially when it comes to thin and lights and pretty much everyone is still using 720p webcams on all of their machines where space is a consideration, just look how thick the front facing camera on an iPhone is and compare that with a MacBook lid.


The Dell XPS series still runs 720p, Thinkpad X1 series, HP (ENVY, OMEN, Elite and ZBook series), Surface Laptop, Razer Blade, Razer Book, etc. all of these continue to use 720p cameras and are the higher end competitors with the MacBook.

They won't upgrade the camera until they can develop one in a thinner form factor that supports FaceID.
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